Fast Show star says BBC3's move to digital killed British comedy

John Thomson believes British comedy has become stagnant

He’s probably best known for his role as Pete Gifford in Cold Feet, but John Thomson cut his comedy teeth on sketch shows like Spitting Image and The Fast Show. Now he laments the drought in British comedy.

Speaking on White Wine Question Time podcast, John said there’s a need for fresh comedy blood.

“I think we need a sketch show,” he told podcast host Kate Thornton. “We need comedy. There's a drought. There's total stagnation!”

He continued saying he thinks the problem stems from the BBC making their innovative programming channel, BBC3, digital-only.

READ MORE: Fay Ripley hints at ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for her Cold Feet character

“I don't think we were ready for that. I signed numerous petitions to say, don't do it.

“I think they thought 'Oh, young generation YouTubers, that's the way it's going.'

“[But] it was too early. Now what happens is [new shows are] kind of trialled on 3 on the internet and then it's put on air, isn't it? That's the rule.

“Fleabag survived - I think she's great. She's a breath of fresh air. That's just a joy to see. Just like Ricky [Gervais] did with The Office.”

The Gavin and Stacey Christmas special was watched by 11.6 million people, making it the biggest festive ratings success in over a decade.

BBC3 ceased to broadcast on television on 16 February 2016. Prior to that it introduced the world to shows such as Gavin & Stacey, Bad Education, Pramface, Cuckoo, Russell Howard’s Good News and Nighty Night

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John, who admitted to podcast host Kate that it was “time really that I put pen to paper” has had a long writing partnership with fellow funny man Steve Coogan, working on characters for his various sketch shows, including Knowing You, Knowing Me… With Alan Partridge.

John also created his characters in The Fast Show, including his most loved one: Jazz Club host Louis Balfour, whose popular catchphrase ‘Nice!’ has been celebrated in the most modern way.

John Thomson's character from The Fast Show has been immortalised in a GIF

“I’ve got my own GIF!” he exclaimed. “I mean: I've arrived, haven't I? I couldn't believe it, someone sent it to me. I thought they'd made it but it's the proper thing!”


Hear John Thomson talk about how he and Steve Coogan got their comedy inspiration, why he loves a nice cufflink and how he’s proud of his portrayal of male depression in Cold Feet in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.